Kongsberg Maritime recently announced the successful completion of a live trial of autonomous shipping technology. The test vessel, named Zulu 4, demonstrated autonomous transport technology as part of the AUTOSHIP project. The Zulu 4 barge was upgraded with onboard control technology that allowed the vessel to maneuver and navigate on unrestricted waterways, and demonstrated berthing and unberthing capabilities. Kongsberg Maritime has developed cloud-based communication and advanced simulations to ensure the safe and optimal operation of the vessel.
During the test, the Zulu 4 completed a 16.5 km circuit on unrestricted waterways, crossing busy sea canals and traversing locks and several bridges. The vessel demonstrated the Autodocking, Autocrossing, and automatic navigation systems. The technology is applicable to different vessel types and can be used in various operations. Antoon Van Coillie, CEO of ZULU Associates, said the operational fit of Zulu 4 with digital technology marks a significant step towards achieving autonomous operation of inland waterway barges.
Europe’s inland waterways offer significant environmental benefits by using autonomous shipping technology. An autonomous barge’s operations can remove around 7,500 trucks from the roads each year, reducing traffic congestion and emissions. According to Kongsberg Maritime, the successful trial verifies the maturity of key enabling technologies and helps build necessary real-world data required for the safety and security of autonomous operations on European waterways to regulators and customers.
The live trial of autonomous technology follows another demonstration of autonomous ship technology on May 25th in Alesund, Norway. The autonomous cargo vessel, Eidsvaag Pioneer, completed several tasks autonomously. Both vessels are equipped with remote and fully autonomous operational technology as part of the AUTOSHIP project, which is part of the Horizon 2020 program. AUTOSHIP is a collaboration between Kongsberg, Norway’s leading research organization, SINTEF, and several European partners. The AUTOSHIP project aims to develop fully autonomous navigation systems, intelligent machinery systems, self-diagnostics, prognostics and operation scheduling, as well as communication technology.
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